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Editorial – A Word and a Blow

9 November 1940

Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 09 November 1940

A Word and a Blow

Mr. Churchill’s reviews help us to see the war steadily and to see it whole. Apart from their purple patches they are a blend of sober statement and understatement. When he has spoken we feel that we know the worst and that it is a lot better than it looks or sounds. Quite rightly, Mr. Churchill insists that we are not yet out of the wood; though we have already escaped many and grave dangers. Invasion may be “off” for a time, but we had better not assume too much.

The German hosts still lie in wait all along the Continental seaboard from Narvik to the Gironde. If our vigilance ,relaxes or misfortune overtakes us in the air, or at sea, Hitler will spring, as he meant to spring in September, for he knows that there can be no short cut to victory—and no victory otherwise—except by storming the citadel of Britain.

Therefore, though we have been able to send powerful reinforcements to the Middle East, we continue to be massively deployed at home, the very head, heart, and centre of the resistance of civilisation to barbarism, of democracy to dictatorship. At home and in the Middle East we have heroically and incredibly made up much of the disadvantage of the French desertion and betrayal. In Egypt we are still confronted by a numerically superior force, but our armies are perfectly positioned, powerfully armed and mechanised, and the Italians have nothing like the margin of strength which an Italian must always have before venturing battle against any foe.

Mussolini’s adventure in Greece—clumsy, ill-prepared, and half-hearted — bears all the character of a diversion intended to cover the paralysis which has descended upon Graziani’s host. Whether or not it has taken the Germans by surprise, and has been interpolated without the authority of the All-Highest, we do not know; it has certainly increased the irritation and contempt of the Nazis for Italian incompetence, and confirmed them in their distrust of the Italian military spirit.

The Greeks are already receiving substantial aid by sea and air from Great Britain and this will doubtless be increased and extended rapidly, but if the Greeks had been less resolute or the Italians more efficient, we might now be mourning the subjugation of still another peaceful and civilised people.

In Mr. Churchill’s speech and in the debate which followed there was a note of bitterness concerning three things—the cruel handicaps imposed on us by the cowards and slaves of Vichy and by the cold-blooded cynics of Dublin; and this disgusting new manifestation of Italian criminality. If deep and undying hatred could enter into the soul of Britain, it would be reserved for these depraved dagoes.

 As it is, there is arising in this country a passionate desire to knock out Italy, not only as a strategical necessity but as an intense racial satisfaction. The Axis will first crack at the Italian end, but we should be loth to see Italy dismissed from the war without having suffered all and more than all the anguish inflicted by her in times past on helpless victims, and applauded by her in this present war when inflicted by her bigger, braver, but not more brutal partner.

The boast that two hundred Italian bombers took part in recent attacks on London is an unlucky boast for Italy, for the time is quickly coming when Italy will receive, equally with Germany, the attentions of our Bomber Command, and Rome will curl up under a tenth of the punishment so heroically endured by London.

The offensive action to be taken against Italy; the handling of the men of Vichy and the checkmating of their further treacheries and infamies; and the steps to be taken to put an end to the shameful position in Ireland—these are all matters to be determined and pursued, on advice and full knowledge, by his Majesty’s Government and Forces—but the House on Wednesday was in a stern mood regarding all of them, and was clearly impatient of further parleying or paltering with influences nearly as evil as the common enemy himself.

From now onward it must be a word and a blow.